Traditional and Digital Marketing Duke It Out

By Mary Ellen Georgas-Tellefsen

In bank marketing departments all over the country, a longstanding debate rages on over the use of digital versus traditional marketing. Often enough, it’s framed in existential terms: Can the bank survive if it doesn’t adapt to a changing marketplace? By the same token, can it survive if it abandons the marketing approaches that have always delivered results? Although the debate centers on where to put marketing dollars, it demands answers to a host of related questions:

  • Why use digital marketing and tools—and where do we even start?
  • Do we continue to invest in the traditional marketing media that we know and understand?
  • How much should we be investing in new digital and automated marketing methods and tools?
  • Do we have to give up all our traditional marketing—and if not, what do we retain?
  • Which medium is best for what we’re trying to accomplish?
  • Do we need a larger marketing budget to cover both types of marketing?

Of course, there are merits to both traditional and digital marketing methods, tools and media. And the real question isn’t which approach is better, but how to find the right balance between the two. While it may be tempting to try to cover your bases by spreading your resources evenly across all channels, that’s probably the best recipe for waste. The only way to determine what will truly work for your institution is to nurture the debate, start experimenting, diligently track ROI—and share stories of successes and failures.

Getting it right takes time.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is an effective marketing plan—especially as marketers are continually confronted with new technologies, tools and vendors competing for share of budget. It’s important to remember that powerful marketing requires analysis, thoughtful discussion, and a specific plan for how different channels will contribute toward achieving your marketing objectives.

It’s also crucial to tie your bank’s marketing directly to the institution’s financial goals and business objectives. That way, you can evaluate your options for success and create a viable plan that uses all media appropriately.

Look at the big-picture—but also the numbers.

Most marketers are prone to some level of bias toward some channels over others. Regardless of which side of the debate you lean toward—traditional or digital—it’s important to understand when and why traditional channels may work better than digital marketing, and vice-versa. Don’t assume it’s simply a question of an old-fashioned versus a contemporary approach. Consider the broader pros and cons of each.

Traditional marketing is harder to ignore because it’s delivered to people’s doorsteps, integrated with buildings, roadways and other infrastructure—and inserted into the experiences people want to have, like sports and entertainment. That means you can surround your prospect with your marketing messages. On the other hand, traditional marketing can be more expensive than digital in production and media buy.

Digital Marketing offers the benefit of being far more targeted and measurable than its traditional counterpart. That can make it more cost effective. The potential downside is that, sequestered on the user’s phone or computer, it can be easy to ignore and delete. It may also provide a low-impact experience from visual standpoint.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to the debate over traditional versus digital marketing. But if you develop the tools for discussion, analysis and reporting within your organization, you can maximize your marketing budget and increase the efficiency of your marketing programs dollars.

Mary Ellen Georgas-Tellefsen is the marketing practice leader at Capital Performance Group, LLC, providing strategy, marketing, and digital channel consulting services to the financial services industry. LinkedIn.

Join Mary Ellen Georgas-Tellefsen and Mark Gibson as they present Traditional and Digital Marketing Duke It Out on Stage at the ABA Bank Marketing Conference, September 22-24 in Austin. There they will discuss the array of options available to marketers these days, reasons why some options are better than others and a framework for deciding what works best for your organization. It’ll be a lively debate and discussion. Register for the conference now.

Questions you’d like to submit in advance? Email Mary Ellen at [email protected] or Mark at [email protected].